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Mixing and Mastering Tips Using FabFilter Pro-Q 3: Mid/Side Processing, Dynamic EQ and More

Mixing and Mastering With Pro Q3

These days, Beatmakers wear multiple hats; sound designer, mixing engineer, music producer, and even  handling their own marketing and promo.

Going from idea to a sonically good sounding beat can be a little challenging. You go through the trouble of finding the right sounds, or designing them, putting the beat together it slaps. Then slap on a quick mix and it works but its that extra something that’s always missing.

This is where mastering comes in.

What Is Mastering?

Mastering is giving a mix the final polish before its distributed out into the world. Often, individual songs may sound good on their own but lack a consistent sound across the entire project.

For instance, let’s say tracks 2, 5, and 9 have too much treble compared to the rest of the songs. The mastering engineer will load all the tracks into one session and adjust each track to make them more consistent with the rest of the album.

One tool that stands out for this purpose is the FabFilter Pro-Q 3, a versatile and highly regarded equalizer plugin. Here are some mastering tips to help you get the most out of this powerful tool.

 

Is Fabfilter Pro-Q3 Worth It For Mixing and Master?

Mixing and Mastering With Pro Q3 (Everyone Loves This EQ)

This is not a full guide one mixing and mastering with Pro Q3, but some tips that you can use to get started and expand on. Also, understand that while you don’t need Pro Q3, it does make the process easier because of its algorithm and how easy it is to use.

Now, lets get started with the mixing tips

1. Get Familar Pro Q3’s Interface: It’s Super Simple To Navigate

Before you do anything, get familiar with the way Pro-Q3 works as well as its interface. If you’re used to using a parametric, you should be in good shape. The main features that stick out is PRO-Q3 offers a dynamic EQ (24 bands) and mid/side processing wrapped into one plugin.

2. High-Pass and Low-Pass Filters: Simple, but Effective

Using high-pass and low-pass filters is a great way to remove unwanted frequencies. A common practice is placing a high-pass filter on all sounds where bass isn’t needed. Set a high-pass filter between 20-40 Hz to eliminate low rumble and any inaudible frequency information.

Similarly, a low-pass filter around 18-20 kHz, this will help remove any unneeded high-frequency noise and allow you to pushes louder mixes and masters that remain clear.

3. Dynamic EQ: Does a Better Job Than Compression

Dynamic EQ allows you to apply compression or expansion to specific frequencies without affecting the entire spectrum, which is especially useful in both mastering and mixing.

Unlike traditional compression, which impacts the whole audio spectrum, dynamic EQ targets specific frequencies precisely.

For example, if your 808 sample has an odd resonance that appears only when held for a certain duration, you can use dynamic EQ to tame that frequency only when necessary. This way, you can keep the 808 you like without changing its character or shortening its decay.

Automating a Pro-Q 3 allows you to control that annoying frequency only when the 808 note is held longer.

4. Mid/Side Processing: How Are You Mixing Without It?

Mid/Side processing gives you control over your mix’s mid (center) and sides (stereo) independently. This is useful in enhancing stereo width and as well as maintaining mono compatibility.

For example, you can boost the high frequencies on the sides to add sparkle without affecting the mid frequencies. This helps maintain clarity in the vocal or lead instruments.

5. EQ Matching: A Mixing and Mastering Gem – Steal From Hit Songs

EQ matching is useful for aligning the tonal balance of your tracks with a reference song. It works by analyzing the frequency spectrum of both your music and the chosen reference track, then suggests adjustments to match the reference.

No, your song will not sound like the hit song you’re referencing, but it will allow you to match the tonal curves, serving as a good starting point for your mix/master.

6. Notching Problem Frequencies

Every mix has certain problem frequencies that can arise and cause issues during the mastering stage. This could be resonances, similar to what was described in the 808 sample above, harsh peaks, or muddy areas.

Use Pro-Q 3’s notch filter to identify and attenuate these frequencies. The plugin’s spectrum analyzer can help you visually pinpoint these issues. Use narrow Q settings to make precise adjustments without affecting the overall tone of your mix.

7. Mastering = Subtle EQ Adjustments

During the mastering stage, big EQ boosts or cuts should be avoided. Aim for gentle small EQ moves; 1-2 (maybe(= 3) dBs of change should be more than enough. If you find yourself needing more, it would be wise to revisit the mix.

Conclusion

Mixing and Mastering with FabFilter Pro-Q 3 can significantly enhance the quality of your tracks. By understanding its features and applying these tips, you can achieve a polished, professional sound.

Remember, mastering is as much about subtlety and precision as it is about using the right tools. Practice a lot, use reference tracks and trust your ears.

 

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